The ICONIC project: creating a unique cardiac and liver imaging atlas

With the IMAGERIE CŒUR FOIE France (ICONIC) project, the IHU ICAN aims to build up an advanced cardiac and hepatic imaging database in a reference population in France, backed up by the national Constances cohort (INSERM).

Based on non-invasive examinations, this unique imaging data will enable analysis of the structure and function of the heart, vessels and liver on a scale currently unavailable in France.

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The ICONIC project was born out of a lack of data

Advances in imaging techniques have opened up new and highly innovative avenues of research. Imaging now plays a central role in our in vivo understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms, enabling us to detect diseases earlier, assess individual risk of developing a disease or a severe form, and thus improve patient care by developing personalized medicine.

However, there are a lack of cardiovascular and liver imaging data in the general population, and even more so in the 20-40 age group. People under 45 are very poorly represented in internationally comparable population studies.

In response, IHU ICAN has set up the ICONIC project, which will enable the validation of new non-invasive imaging biomarkers, by creating a database accessible to the entire community of specialized researchers.

IMAGERIE CŒUR FOIE France: an open, qualitative, long-term and longitudinal database

The first objective of the ICONIC project will be to generate normative data by age and sex category from the analysis of MRI and echocardiographic images in the French population. These normative data could form the basis for validating new imaging biomarkers, and serve as controls for fundamental or clinical studies on human data.

New diagnostic and prognostic tools are destined to become multiparametric, integrating clinical, biological and imaging data.

It will be open to doctors and researchers, enabling French teams to collaborate on current and future international population imaging projects.

The pilot phase of the project will involve 2,400 participants from the Constances lacohorte (Inserm), with a balanced representation in terms of age and gender (200 women and 200 men for each decade).

Volunteers included in the study will undergo a series of biological and imaging examinations, notably on the ICAN Imaging platform of the ICAN IHU, located in the Heart Institute of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, for explorations such as myocardial MRI and transthoracic echocardiography.

A veritable tool for epidemiological research, the Constances “generalist” epidemiological cohort is made up of a representative sample of 200,000 volunteers aged between 18 and 69, included between 2012 and 2019 and consulting Social Security Health Examination Centers (CES).

Project objectives

  • Identify new biomarkers of inflammation in patients with arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, or carriers of the mutation(s) responsible,
  • Determine the diagnostic value of newly identified biomarkers (circulating and imaging) in relation to current diagnostic criteria
  • Improve diagnosis of arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy to speed up patient management.

Patient benefits

  • The benefit is mainly societal, as the creation of this reference Atlas of population cardiometabolic imaging will enable a better understanding of metabolic diseases and their development.

Study duration

  • Total duration of pilot phase: 5 years
  • The study will be conducted in 2 phases: an initial monocentric pilot phase involving young volunteers aged between 20 and 40, and a second, nationwide phase.

Project owners

  • Principal investigator: Alban REDHEUIL, ICT Cardiovascular and Thoracic Imaging, Hôpital de la Pitié Salpêtrière, APHP, Sorbonne University
  • Comité scientifique
  • Marie ZINS, Head of the CONSTANCES cohort INSERM UMS-11
  • Nadjia KACHENOURA, DR Biomedical Imaging Laboratory INSERM/CNRS/SU
  • Vlad RATZIU, Service d'Hépatologie CHU Pitié-Salpêtrière APHP.SU, Hôpital La Pitié Salpêtrière, APHP, Sorbonne Université
  • Olivier LUCIDARME, Specialized Imaging and Emergency Department, La Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital, APHP, Sorbonne University
  • Aron Ariel COHEN, Cardiology Department, Hôpital Saint Antoine, APHP, Sorbonne University

Overall budget

6.8 million euros

The project has received major support from the MSDAVENIR Endowment Fund, as well as funding from the Île-de-France region under the SESAME "Scientific and technological equipment and platforms" scheme, part of the regionalized Avenir Investment Program (SESAME filière PIA).

©Pierre Kitmacher.